Weighing In

Members on both sides of the political aisle in the House Appropriations defense subcommittee said Wednesday they want to look carefully at the Air Force’s KC-X tanker decision to see if lies in the best interests of the country, given the fact that, at first glance, it looks like many American jobs have been lost in favor of much overseas work. “This is as political as anything that we do,” said chairman John Murtha (D-Pa,) in characterizing the lawmakers’ oversight role in the multi-billion-dollar tanker program. He explained: “We are the ones who appropriate the money. When I look at the Dubai [ports deal] crisis that we had, the public was up in arms. The full committee voted 60 to 2 to stop that provision, so this [too] has to be completely aired so that the public understands.” Murtha said he will hold a second briefing on the tanker soon, likely behind closed doors after the two teams are debriefed (see above). Ranking member C.W. Bill Young (R-Fla.) echoed similar caution. “I want to make certain that we continue with manufacturing capability in the United States,” he said. “I want to make certain that any technical developments within this program that are vital to the future interest of the United States are not going to be transferred to the likes of a country that I do not have all the confidence [in] that I would like to have in, namely France.” Other members were less diplomatic. “This thing is fatally flawed in my judgment,” said Norman Dicks (D-Wash.), in whose state Boeing would have done much of its tanker work had it won. “As far as I am concerned, Northrop Grumman is a front,” said David Hobson (R-Ohio). “They are a fine company, but they are a front for the French and their other partners.”